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The Straight Dope on Paul Ryan

How much do you know about the next potential vice president of the United States? Here are his views on major issues from the federal budget to immigration to social issues and more.

Firmly grasping grassroots voters by the hand, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin Congressional Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate, setting off an enthusiastic wave of Twitterings, Facebook posts and congratulatory messages.

Already well known among political observers, seven-term Congressman Ryan is the co-chairman of the House Budget Committee and the author of the “The Path to Prosperity,” which ultimately became the blueprint for Romney’s economic vision for America’s future.

Ryan is widely respected by members of both parties as a federal budget expert and a fiscal hawk of the highest order. He supports amending the Constitution to include a balanced budget requirement. He recently voted his conscious and joined Democrats as well as three House Republicans in denying passage of a watered-down version of the balanced budget amendment that did not include spending limits, risked much higher income taxes down the road and had little chance of passing the Senate (and never mind ratification by the states).

With this pick, Romney is rolling the dice – wisely, I think -- that the economy is the top issue for voters this election year. Yes, there is a lot of background noise. But even Bill Clinton's strategist James Carville observed wryly: it's "the economy, stupid.”

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but wonder: where else does Paul Ryan stand on the issues? So, for those of you who holler that my column is not “rhetoric-free” as advertised, here are his views on a number of important issues of the day in a real “spin-free” zone (my apologies, Mr. O’Reilly).

For your consideration:

Medicare. Ryan supports maintaining the existing Medicare program for current seniors as well as those who are near retirement. “Younger workers” would receive a voucher that would offer, in Ryan’s words, greater choice through the creation of a Medicare Exchange that would put insurers in competition with each other, which Ryan believes will drive down costs. The voucher plan, born from the Clinton health care commission, is a bipartisan solution, Ryan says.

Social Security. Ryan believes, as do most fiscal hawks, that Social Security is in deep trouble. He believes that there is a bipartisan path forward and points to the progress made by President Obama’s Fiscal Commission, which supports revising Social Security to include a progressive payment structure and providing additional financial help to those who fall below the poverty line.

Immigration. Ryan does not support amnesty for illegal aliens. Instead, he “hopes” to solve the problem through better border security procedures and an updated worker registration system. He sympathizes with the DREAM Act but does not support its “piecemeal”, “symptom”-treating efforts. He supports a temporary guest worker program – essential for his agriculture-dependent home state.

Health Care. Ryan supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Environmental Issues. Ryan, by all accounts, is an “avid outdoorsman” and he has focused his environmental legislative efforts in the Wisconsin region. He vigorously supports Congress’s Asian Carp effort as well as the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. He supported removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list; the gray wolf population has been increasing in numbers, and many Wisconsin farmers have reported losing livestock to gray wolf attacks.  He is a member of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus.

Foreign Policy. Ryan supports maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan. He is staunch supporter of Israel’s “right to exist” and believes that America should not pressure it to agree to deals that won’t maintain regional peace with known terrorists and terrorist-sympathizers such as Hamas. He supports maintaining a strong, well-supplied military.

Social Issues. Although Ryan’s own website does not highlight his views on social issues, he believes life begins at conception and he is a staunch social conservative. He opposes abortion and has voted to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood. He also opposes same sex marriage and supports the rights of gun owners, saying that he believes gun control legislation won’t result in improved crime control. Thus far, he has deflected criticism, stating that he wants to focus on the issues that are affecting the economy.

With these views, the Republicans are lining up squarely against the Democrats in nearly every important area.

Things are about to get interesting.

Robert Rickman August 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM
I think your assessment is clearly without bias or spin. It's nice to get news instead of opinion. Thank you.
Sqdancer August 15, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Finally a news article that is factual, I applaud you. Thank you.
Lisa S August 15, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Yes, thank you. I will do further research on his record but having it broken out and in a non-biased way is nice to to get started.
momofone August 16, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Please refer to the Fairfield Patch comments for the facts. The above are facts spun so make him look like a Boy Scout. http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/the-straight-dope-on-paul-ryan-1ee906b8?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001
Concerned Parent August 16, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Here's the "Straight Dope"...Nothing will change in DC no matter who is elected...The only way you can truly change things is to eliminate the one constant that has been in DC thru the last 3 Administrations...They being the Senior DEM and REP leadership. It's time for a change and the recumbents have failed our country miserably. So my question to those who are critical of the REP and DEM candidates, are you willing to change the face of Congress by removing these career politicians??
MAC August 17, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Father of 3 young children, Paul Ryan's own father died when Paul was 16, of heart disease--as did his grandfather and his ggrandfather. That is one of the reasons he is so self-disciplined, does P90X fitness workouts and keeps his body fat to a lean 6-8 %! (He is 6'2" tall and weighs less than 165 lbs.) A little more about the man and his family: his background is truly "blue collar," he sleeps on his office sofa in D.C., and his former lawyer wife (now stay-at-home mom) was wearing a Kohl's floral dress the other day (marked down to $33!). The Ryans live in a very nice brick home in Paul's hometown of Janesville, WI, just across some woods from the home where Paul Ryan grew up. His wife Janna is from Oklahoma, and comes from a "blue dog" Democrat family. People of all political stripes admire and respect Paul Ryan for his intelligence, ability to clearly and readily articulate his policies, humility and bipartisanship. Lisa, did you read the delightful account of how Ryan was spirited away for the "announcement," under the very noses of the media who were dogging all the potential VP picks? Here is a link with video: http://news.yahoo.com/video/paul-ryan-avoided-reporters-running-080000195.html Here is another great link: http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2012/08/15/lack-of-teleprompter-fires-up-paul-ryan-crowd/ Great work, Lisa!
Jon S. August 20, 2012 at 08:20 PM
As usual, Ms. Bigelow promises us “rhetoric-free” analysis and offers absolutely nothing of the kind. To base her column on Rep. Ryan’s own website isn’t exactly “spin-free,” is it? It’s nothing BUT spin, nothing but a happy PR face. To read Ms. Bigelow, for example, you’d think Rep. Ryan is an environmental champion. She states that Rep. Ryan is “an avid outdoorsman,” who supports “Congress’s Asian Carp effort,” and the “Great Lakes Interagency Task Force,” who wants to remove the “gray wolf from the endangered species list,” and who is a “member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.” These are, in the same order and same wording, the exact talking points listed on Rep. Ryan’s web page. Not mentioned on Rep. Ryan’s web page, and thus not included in Ms. Bigelow’s “straight dope,” are far more troubling examples of Rep. Ryan’s actual environmental record. Stuff like his denial of global warming, or his history of protecting big oil’s tax breaks while working against emerging energy technologies. There’s no mention that Rep. Ryan is a favorite of oil industry lobbyists or receives only a 3% rating from the 2011 League of Conservation Voters (even Michele Bachmann scored higher). No one's going to vote for president based on Rep. Ryan’s stand on the environment. But, as ever, Ms. Bigelow needs to start being more honest with her readers. “Rhetoric-free?” “Spin-free?” More like “Thought-free.”
momofone August 21, 2012 at 02:00 AM
His views on women and the environment, plus his adulation of Ayn Rand should make any thinking person run far, far away.
MAC August 21, 2012 at 07:12 PM
No, "moo," Ryan "rejects Rand’s atheism, support for abortion rights, and her views on anarchy, he embraces her thinking about what he calls the 'fight of individualism versus collectivism.'” Milton Friedman and Bastiat are revered equally, or even more, by Paul Ryan, so you need to inform yourself better before you make these broad and erroneous proclamations about what HE thinks.
Concerned Parent August 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM
@momo...what have you been smoking...You need to stop living on the web reading opinion pages and believing every piece of bias garbage posted within it... I know I made a beeline to the campus library to pickup my copy of Atlas Shrugged when I was in college... Only losers whose aspiration in life is to be a librarian would hold any adulation for Ayn Rand..
momofone August 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Ahem...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fojrlX6rmmM http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/paul-ryan-ayn-rand_n_1821201.html?utm_hp_ref=business Just çuz YOU say he doesn't idolize Ayn Rand doesn't mean it's true. Here he is on tape in quoted in print.

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